ALPHARETTA—Sam Porter has been a proponent of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) for years. He was one of the first SBDR leaders to respond after the 9-11 attacks in New York City, making numerous trips for two years and serving as a chaplain in the morgue at Ground Zero.
Porter has also led more than 100 volunteer mission projects and over 40 international relief missions. He’s headed recovery efforts for a year in Haiti following 34 volunteer teams from Oklahoma in the wake of the devastating earthquake January 12, 2010.
So when Mickey Caison, national director for North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Disaster Relief, officially retires August 31, it seems like a natural next step for Porter to take the reins.
“We’ve been praying and looking for Mickey’s replacement for about 18 months,” said David Melber, NAMB vice president of Send Relief. “Sam has been in the disaster relief world for a long time working around the nation and throughout Oklahoma. He’s proven to be a great leader. I’m excited to see how he’s going to continue unifying our state disaster relief leaders during crisis and how he will bring a new direction for disaster relief that’s going to further build its future.”
NAMB shared news of Porter’s appointment with state disaster relief leaders during a phone call with state disaster relief leaders on Tuesday afternoon, July 11.
“We started looking for someone who was well-respected in the disaster relief world,” Melber said. “Sam had that respect because of his historical work in the disaster relief world. He’s highly regarded as a leader among state partners, and he truly understands how disaster relief works.”
“I am really thrilled to get to continue in the ministry I’ve already been doing 19 ½ years,” Porter said. “The SBC-DR network of state directors is a fellowship of incredible men that help believers learn how to put themselves in the “mission offering plate”. My prayer is that we can see every state convention have a strong Disaster Relief team to impact their part of the USA for the Lord by serving when individual’s lives are torn apart by disasters of various types.”
Porter currently serves as volunteer missions specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), which includes responsibilities as the director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. His resume of SBDR efforts is extensive. Porter plans to retire from the BGCO August 15 and begin his role with NAMB in mid-September.
“I know of no one in the SBC who more exemplifies the ministry of disaster relief than Sam Porter,” Dr. Anthony Jordan, BGCO state executive, said. “He has the respect of state and national leaders, as well as governmental leaders. He will be a bridge for building a solid and dynamic relationship between states and associational leaders with the North American Mission Board for disaster relief.”
Porter said one of his top priorities in the new role will be to help state conventions add to their volunteer force.
“The first things will be to seek to strengthen the DR teams in the state conventions that have declining numbers,” said Porter. “We want to see every one of the 42 state conventions reach out to include collegiate students and many more millennials. This generation are doers and desire to be in “hands on ministry.” They are perfect to be DR volunteers. We will seek to have more join their local state teams to serve across the nation.”
Porter took part in two SBDR humanitarian aid trips to Iraq distributing blankets, food, stoves and fuel. He has also served in Indonesia and Thailand following the 2004 December tsunami. Porter led disaster and recovery efforts following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.
He has served on the board of trustees at Golden Gate (now Gateway) Seminary and was chairman of the board for two years. Porter was a trustee for Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and vice president of the Oklahoma Pastor’s Conference. He has also served as a men’s ministries specialist and pastored for 20 years at several churches.
“We would never have imagined a year ago that someone like Sam would want to take on this role,” said Melber. “But God has been clarifying who we needed, and it was confirmed in Sam and his wife, Sheryl, too. Sam will bring new ways to grow a volunteer network in disaster relief, and we’re so thankful for God’s constant provision and how He works through all circumstances.”
Porter has an undergratuate degree from Baylor University where he was defensive end on the Baylor football team. He also holds a Masters of Divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary. He and his wife, Sheryl, have two sons, Aaron (married to Chanda) and Josh (married to Rachel), and five grandchildren, Reece, Doak, Zeke, Chi and Jet.
Josie Bingham writes for the North American Mission Board.
Published July 12, 2017